$6.975 Million Judgement for Failure to Diagnose IUGR and Failure to Perform a Timely Delivery

The birth injury attorneys at ABC Law Centers secured a $6.975 million judgment for a child with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) due to medical malpractice. The team found that the hospital, doctors, and nurses responsible for this case failed to order necessary ultrasounds to diagnose intrauterine growth restriction and indicate the need for an earlier delivery. The delay in delivery caused hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).

Failure to diagnose intrauterine growth restriction and failure to timely deliver

A minor mother with several risk factors for having a small baby had a routine ultrasound at 18 weeks gestation. This ultrasound revealed that the baby experienced a decrease in estimated fetal weight to the 25th percentile. The prenatal doctor stated that fundal heights, or the measurements of the abdomen from the pubic bone to the top of the uterus, would be monitored and scans would be obtained as indicated. The prenatal doctor continued to monitor fundal heights, which they found to be consistent with dates. The prenatal doctor did not order another ultrasound.

The doctor chose to induce labor at 39 6/7 weeks gestation because the mother’s delivery with her first baby went very quickly.  She went to the hospital on this date and a doctor performed a fundal height measurement and estimated fetal weight by palpation. Neither of these values indicated a small for gestational age baby. Despite the many risk factors present for IUGR, no follow-up ultrasound was performed.

The mother was induced for several hours and showed excessive uterine contractions, but no cervical dilation. The mother was not given the option of a c-section delivery, but was told she could either go home or remain in the hospital for augmentation with Pitocin or morphine rest. The mother chose to go home and another induction was scheduled for 5 days later.

The mother called the doctor on the morning of the second induction complaining of contractions. She was told to wait until contractions were closer together or her water broke. Her water did break and she had a large amount of bleeding. She called her doctor, and despite there being a hospital close to her home, she was advised to go to a hospital farther away.

By the time the mother arrived at the hospital, the baby had severe bradycardia so doctors performed an emergency c-section. The doctor diagnosed placental abruption. The baby was growth restricted (weighing 2690 grams) and suffered hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). The baby underwent head cooling.

Because the necessary ultrasound was not performed, the IUGR was not diagnosed and the baby was not delivered when they should have been, at 39 6/7 weeks (the day of the scheduled induction). Malpractice caused the baby to be born with HIE and subsequently diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and physical and cognitive impairments.